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By Phil Helsel
The whale met a Seattle ferry on Tuesday It was thought to be a juvenile humpback whale that was unlikely to survive, As one official told the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The animal was hit by the Wenatchee Ferry about three minutes past 8:15 pm Run from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, west of the city. The ferry hit the whale, which was reported to have been about 1 to 2 meters in length in front of the ship in Elliott Bay.
The Wenatchee crew did not know that the ferry hit a whale until passengers alerted them. Gregory Faust, director of the state-owned ferry department, told reporters Wednesday.
Even if they had seen the whale, the ferry could not have stopped in time, said Faust. Washington State Ferries spokesman Dana Warr said, "It takes just over a minute for the ferry to reach a point in the water," said Faust. "And at 5 to 10 feet there is no chance to maneuver the ship at all." Faust described the strike as extremely rare and said that the department found no records of a whale or any other marine mammal hit by a state ferry. He said if the ferry system gets reports on whales in the region, the ferries will slow down, but "there were no reports of whales in the region yesterday."
"You are, you know, extremely repentant and feel terrible about the situation, as we all do," said Faust from the crew.
NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said in an email on Wednesday that the whale was a juvenile humpback whale. A witness told NBC subsidiary KING of Seattle on Tuesday that they considered the whale a gray whale.
While Investigating the Incident "According to passengers, the strike is likely to be fatal," said Milstein
Faust said passengers had seen a whale surface in front of the ferry and a trail of blood behind the ship. There were no injuries aboard the ferry.